Somebody Said A Suppressor Has No Real Use? Think again!

Suppressors are a bit of a controversial topic. On the one hand, some people think that they should be banned, and for a whole bunch of crazy reasons. Some people think they should be completely deregulated.

Others still insist that people who use suppressors, outside of military and law enforcement, are basically grown men who are playing secret agent at the range.

Well...we can't guarantee there's none of that going on. But it is hardly the case that there's no practical use for suppressors. In fact, there's a great deal of practical application; it's really the case that suppressors should be a bit more proliferate if anything.

Suppressors For Hunting

suppressor hunting

In most of the developed world, suppressors are very commonly used for big game hunting. Here in the United States, it's actually rare. English deer stalkers and hog hunters in central Europe would think nothing of it and in fact would insist they're completely necessary; few Americans currently pursue deer, pigs, elk or other game with a suppressor attached.

And that's absolutely stupid.

A gunshot produces more than 160 dB of noise from typical handgun and rifle calibers. If you aren't wearing ear protection, any noise over 140 dB causes hearing damage instantly. Every pull of the trigger without ear pro and you're losing some hearing. And hunters are notorious for not wearing hearing protection in the woods, the blind or wherever it may take place.

Granted, for the big game hunter...maybe that's not such a big deal. If you do your job as a hunter correctly, you'll only fire one shot anyway. For the waterfowler or upland bird'll be on a first name basis with an audiologist.

With that said, a suppressor can attenuate the noise of a gunshot by 30 dB. (Most fall well short of that.) If you then add a set of ear plugs that further attenuate about another 10 dB...that takes a 160 dB+ rifle shot well below the 140 dB threshold.

Suppressors For Home Defense

home defense

Suppressors are also very appropriate for home defense use.

So we mentioned hunting, and how it's safer for the hearing faculties of game hunters if they use a rifle that has a suppressor. (Ideally paired with some ear plugs.) The same idea also applies when it comes to home defense.

Here we have something of a conundrum.

It's true that in a self-defense situation, hearing protection is the last thing you need to worry about. The first priority is stopping the threat, and that takes FAR more precedence. It's also true that you aren't likely to be involved in more than one home invasion where you have to shoot somebody in self-defense in your entire lifetime. In fact, it's not likely you'll even be involved in one to begin with.

And of course it's also true that if you're limited to the choice of neutralizing a threat to yourself and your loved ones, or a few days of ringing ears, everyone will take a little ringing in the ear for a day or two. If, however, you limit yourself to that false dilemma.

If you keep a dedicated home defense handgun or pistol-caliber carbine, this is an ideal application for your tarted-up tacticool pew pew machine. Add a red dot and a light, and then a can for fast, accurate shooting when it matters.

Make no mistake. Even a 130 dB gunshot inside a house is going to be LOUD. Sound reverberates, and indoor ranges are notorious for being far worse on the ears than outdoor ranges. Adding a suppressor will take a bit of the sting off.

Suppressors For General Shooting Applications...With Certain Obvious Exceptions

home defense

Suppressors actually make shooting safer for hearing. Again, the noise attenuation takes a gunshot from being completely unsafe for hearing without hearing protection to being somewhat safe for hearing with hearing protection.

There are, of course, some very obvious exceptions.

Obviously, a suppressor on a concealed carry handgun is going to be right out of the equation when training from the holster, which you better be doing some of. So that's obviously not happening.

However, for other than practical shooting purposes...suppressors are - in actual fact - totally practical.

Look, we all like to shoot. It's fun! There's also a certain "Zen and the Art Of Archery" sort of thing to it; trying to get the utmost of accuracy, focusing on the perfect trigger squeeze and being totally in the moment.

Does that mean you need to go deaf doing it? Heck no, and that's why suppressors are totally practical.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.